Tuesday, March 18, 2014

OS X Dictation Alternatives

Nicholas Riley:

OS X Mavericks (10.9) introduces “Enhanced Dictation”, a locally hosted, non-trainable version of Nuance’s recognizer.


Enhanced Dictation’s omissions of training and editing likely protect sales of the Dragon Mac products (discussed below).


Nuance’s Windows dictation products (Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Medical/Legal) are better than their Mac equivalents, though that’s not saying a lot. The UI is a scattered, slowly-evolving mess; true interaction between keyboard/mouse and voice editing is limited to individual versions of specific applications, and the medical product is expensive (upgrades are $500 on sale).

The main reason I dictate into Windows is the ecosystem surrounding the Dragon products there. There are quite a few abandoned research projects and other near-abandonware to contend with, but it’s possible with some effort to construct a productive system.

Nicholas Riley:

I do my serious dictation in a Windows 7 virtual machine. Having recently upgraded my dictation setup and transferred it to a new Mac, I figured it’d be a good thing to share.


Most of the time I’m not actually editing documents directly on Windows; the OS simply holds my text on the way to its destination in a Mac application.

Update (2014-04-15): Nicholas Riley:

Thanks to PowerScribe, I realized that it’s actually easier for me to work with shorter fragments of text, a sentence or a paragraph at a time, rather than importing the entire document at a time. What I’ve implemented so far is on GitHub; here’s a video showing it in use and explaining some technical details.

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